How to dance hip hop men
Hip Hop Dancing 101 | Dancer’s Guide for 2023
Do you find yourself fascinated by hip hop dancing and curious to know more? After all, it looks incredibly impressive, but also super fun, to break it down and bust some moves to the epic beats being spun by DJs.
If you’re interested in learning more about the art form of hip hop dancing, including what it is and how to dance it, then you’re in the right place. This guide will explain everything you need to know about hip hop dancing so you can build a better understanding of this intriguing and expressive art form and maybe even start practicing some moves yourself.
Jump to Section
- How Do You Dance Hip Hop?
- What is Hip Hop Dance?
- Hip Hop Dance History
- Most Famous Hip Hop Dancers
- Types of Hip Hop Dance Styles
- Five Characteristics of Hip Hop Dance
- Most Popular Hip Hop Dance Moves
- Top Hip Hop Dance Songs
How Do You Dance Hip Hop?
Hip Hop Dance Classes
The best, and arguably most fun, way to learn all about hip hop dancing is from live instructors. They’ll teach you everything from the basics to more advanced moves of this style of dancing in a welcoming and lively environment.
Browse dance classes in Houston, dance classes in Seattle and dance classes in Las Vegas, which include hip hop dance for kids, to find some of the best hip hop dancing instruction out there. No matter what you’re skill level, you can easily improve your hip hop skills with one of the many dance classes near you.
Online Hip Hop Dance Classes
Another great way to learn hip hop dancing, especially if you prefer to learn on your own or in the comfort of your own home, is with online dance classes or other online resources! Participating in an online hip hop dance class is a great way to receive direct instruction (either group or private) from a knowledgeable dancer.
Benefits of Dancing Hip Hop
Why should you learn how to dance hip hop? Besides it being an impressive skill to bust out at parties and social gatherings, Stanford Dance states that frequent dancing has been shown to help protect against dementia and increase cognitive sharpness at all ages!
Additionally, hip hop dance can help build self-confidence, increase athleticism and foster a spirit of self-empowerment. Keep reading as we break down some of the key characteristics and basic moves of hip hop dancing!via Canva
What is Hip Hop Dance?
At the most basic level, hip hop dance is a style of street music, a series of bounces and rocks performed to the beats of hip hop music.
Compared to other dance styles, hip hop dancing is less constrained and does not necessarily have set rules or limiting characteristics that must be followed. Instead, hip hop dancing is better understood as a distinct stylistic approach to choreography and improvisation set to the beats and rhythms of hip hop music.
Hip hop dancing is actually a mix of many different dance styles and includes elements from salsa, Cuban mango and rumba, Brazilian samba, jazz, ballet and even some martial arts influences like Kung-Fu.
Most importantly, hip hop dancing is a part of the greater hip hop culture and reflects freedom to learn, grow and express oneself through movement.
Hip Hop Dance History
Hip hop dancing is largely rooted in African-American culture and first emerged as a style of improvised street dancing in black and Latin NYC neighborhoods in the 1970s. In particular, the West Bronx is considered the birthplace of hip hop dancing.
Seeking to escape the struggles of life as a minority, the youth of these neighborhoods turned to art as a means to express themselves, creating a unique and culturally blended art form of street dance now known as hip hop dancing.
The Father of Hip Hop
It was during these early formative years that DJ Kool Herc, known as the Father of Hip Hop, first figured out how to isolate the backbeat of a song and spin it back on loop. Pretty soon his West Bronx parties were routinely combining deejaying and emceeing with this new style of street dance, firmly establishing the beginning of hip hop dancing culture.
Hip Hop in the Media
Hip hop dancing continued to spread and gain popularity during the coming decades and was notably showcased in multiple films and commercials during the 1980s. Breakdancing in particular was featured in ads for Pepsi, Coke, Panasonic and Burger King. In the 1990s, the “Elite Force” dance troupe helped bring exposure to hip hop dancing.
Hip Hop Today
As hip hop dancing grew in popularity within mainstream art and media culture, it further developed and evolved. Today, hip hop continues to be featured on modern dance shows and is a popular style of dance taught across dance studios and organizations. Importantly, though, the term “hip hop” is sometimes misused or misapplied in attempts to mass market.via Canva
Most Famous Hip Hop Dancers
The OG hip hop dance group, NYC-based Rocky Steady Crew, contained some of the most famous and founding hip hop dancers, including Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon and Steffan “Mr. Wiggles” Clemente.
Dan Cornelius, creator of Soul Train in the 1970s, helped to popularize hip hop social dancing, especially popping, locking and other styles.
Similarly, Charles “Cholly” Atkins and James Brown were dancers who helped introduce and popularize dance moves that would eventually find their way into hip hop dancing.
Toni Basil is another famous hip hop dancer, a classically trained ballerina who helped bring hip hop dancing to a broad audience during the 1980s.
There are also plenty of other famous artists and singers who many consider to be hip hop dancers. The names at the top of this list include Michael Jackson, Ciara, Beyonce and Chris Brown.via Canva
Types of Hip Hop Dance Styles
There are a few different hip hop dance styles, especially since it borrows from so many other styles and disciplines of dance.
While some might consider locking and popping to be styles of hip hop dance, they are better defined as moves used within hip hop dance. In fact, these styles have their own techniques and origin. Many popular social dances sometimes called hip hop dance styles are actually “West Coast Funk” styles instead.
So what are the types of hip hop dance styles?
One of the most important stylistic components of hip hop dance is breaking, also known as breakdancing. It’s an acrobatic style of dance involving lots of fast footwork and quick-paced technique.
Dancers who perform breakdancing are known as b-boys or b-girls. Although breaking is its own style of dance separate from hip hop dance, breaking competitions are a particular style of hip hop dancing, where b-boys and b-girls engage in back-and-forth dance battles, challenging one another to see who can be more creative, original or dominating in their moves.
In addition to the dance styles incorporated within hip hop dancing, there are also hip hop party dances. This style is much more relaxed than breaking competitions and instead focuses on light-hearted social connection and fun.
You may be familiar with some popular hip hop party dances, like the Snake, Chicken-Head, Cabbage Patch, Harlem Shake and Running Man; these are now referred to as “old school” hip hop dances. New school party dances come from more recent songs, such as The Whip, Nae Nae, Dougie and Cat Daddy.via Canva
Five Characteristics of Hip Hop Dance
Hip hop dance involves the five characteristics of hip hop culture: deejaying, breaking, graffiti, emceeing and knowledge of self.
DJs are the ones who create hip hop music in live time for people to hip hop dance to. This art form, also known as turntabling, involves using record players (or in more recent years, electronic DJ mixing technology and electronic devices) to isolate the breakbeat of a song and play it back on loop in new or creatively integrated ways.
Most people naturally associate breaking, or breakdancing, with hip hop dancing, but it’s important to note that breakdancing in itself is not hip hop; it is merely a component of hip hop dancing.
Breaking is its own unique style of dance involving five core movements: top rocks, back rocks, fast footwork, freezes and power moves. There is usually lots of spinning and contorting, but it all comes down to the dancer moving to the “breakbeat” provided by the DJ spinning tracks.
Check out the hip hop moves in the hip hop dance video below!
Sometimes called “street art,” graffiti is a visual form of self-expression in which artists use spray paint to transform walls, buildings and other outdoor spaces into vibrant and colorful displays.
The “MC,” or “Master of Ceremonies,” functions as the overall director of the hip hop party, hyping up the DJ and the crowd, as well as occasionally freestyle rapping with the music.
Knowledge of Self
This is arguably the most important characteristic, as it is this philosophy that binds all these separate elements together into a single hip hop culture. Coming from the Afro-diaspora, “knowledge of self” refers to a mix of political and spiritual consciousness portraying social change and designed to empower members of oppressed social groups.via Canva
Most Popular Hip Hop Dance Moves
A common style of hip hop dance is freestyle improvisation, in which the dancer creates a creative flow of moves in the moment. The more experienced one is at freestyling, the easier it usually is from them to come up with fluid and natural-looking freestyle sequences.
This move draws from African-American culture and is largely a powerful and forceful expression of emotion. It involves powerful, energetic movements, especially chest bumping.
Popping is achieved by quickly contracting certain muscles to create a jerking effect. Almost any part of the body can be “popped” and this technique is often used to make robotic movements.
Another popular hip hop dance move, locking, requires the dancer to quickly freeze their body in different positions as they dance. It’s similar to popping, except the dancer holds the frozen positions for longer periods of time.via Canva
Top Hip Hop Dance Songs
While hip hop dancing is often performed as DJs spin tracks in live time, there are also lots of pre-recorded hip hop style dance songs, many of which you will probably recognize either by name or when you hear them.
Here are just a few popular hip hop dance songs:
- “Stanky Leg” by GS Boyz
- “It’s Goin Down” by Yung Joc
- “Crank That” by Souldja Boy
- “You’re a Jerk” by New Boyz
- “Tootsee Roll” by 69 Boyz
- “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by Silento
- “Snap Yo Fingers” by Lil Jon
You can also check out Spotify's Hip Hop Playlist for some more current hip hop song recommendations.via Canva
Now that you know the basic history and characteristics of hip hop dancing, it’s time to start exploring this art form yourself. Whether you sign up for a dance class or simply begin practicing moves on your own, have fun as you learn to express yourself in new ways through movement with hip hop dancing.
Most important of all, remember to fully embrace all aspects of hip hop culture if you can and try to approach this style of dance with a “knowledge of self” philosophy!
For even more creative ideas and inspiration, check out other experiences happening on Classpop!
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Hip Hop Dance Moves For Beginners
Learn how to dance hip hop with our hip hop moves. They are perfect for those of you who want to get into hip hop dancing and learn some basic steps. These hip hop dance moves are some of the most popular moves out there and could be used to dance at parties, clubs and any other events.
Hip Hop Dance Tutorial #1: Start With Learning The Basic Rhythm
Hip Hop Dance Tutorial #2: The 2 Step Basic Move (From 5X Hip Hop Course)
Many more moves below this video
More FREE Beginner Hip Hop dance moves
Get Sean's Hip Hop Course:
5X Hip Hip Course For Beginner
Learn basic hip hop moves with 25 step by step video lessons. This course is broken down into 5 modules that focus on different types of moves: Footwork, Upper Body, Waving, Step Touch and Iconic Moves. You will love this 2+ hours of detailed instruction for beginners.
These beginner hip hop dance moves on this page are easy to learn because they teach you one move at a time - as opposed to long, complicated routines.
This way you can use them individually or combine them with other steps however you feel. We recommend that you first pay attention to the footwork and timing of the step and then add your own styling to it only after. These hip hop dance videos are general hip hop steps that are good for adults and kids. They could be used with popular hip hop music in any situation.
Remember that Hip Hop is all about isolating the different body parts so make sure that you understand what body part moves first and in what sequence. Once you mastered these moves you can also check out other related Hip Hop styles like the free style dance lessons, how to break dance, how to dance to dubstep and popping dance moves.
If you are looking to learn other dance styles check out Online dance lessons.
TIPS: How to dance Hip Hop Better
1. It's all about attitude - Remember that Hip Hop dancing is all about "selling" the performance. Commit to each movement and be confident about everything you do.
2. Learn the basics first - the better your basics are, the better you will be able to execute the more intermediate and advanced Hip Hop moves. So don't jump the gun, instead master the fundamentals.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice - You need to hone down your skills as often as possible. Make sure to practice before every class and at your spare time in between classes. The key is to get the steps into your muscle memory.
Interested in other styles?
How to hip hop dance online
How to Ballroom dance videos
Ballet dance moves
How to dance in a club
teaching basic movements and features of dance
Hip-hop, like any other dance direction, is best studied at a professional school. After all, only a qualified teacher will find an individual approach to a new student and teach the necessary movements. But if this is not possible, or if you want to come to class prepared, you can try to master the direction of hip-hop at home. How to dance the first movements, now we will tell.
Like any dance, hip-hop training includes getting acquainted not only with the basic movements of the style, but also with a certain philosophy. And in this direction it is special. Hip-hop came to us in the second half of the last century from the most disadvantaged areas of New York and Los Angeles. Tired of injustice, aggression and blood, teenagers, who mostly did not have the cleanest reputation, invented their own special way to resolve conflicts - with the help of dance battles and rap parties. Hip-hop is a free dance, a challenge to society and a protest against any inequality. That is why the main thing in this style is not at all the clarity of the learned movements, but the sense of rhythm, improvisation and expression of the individuality of the performer. nine0003
Getting Started: Preparation and Basic Movements
Before learning hip-hop for beginners, you should make sure that you feel comfortable doing it. According to experienced dancers, three things will help you relax and start learning:
- Appropriate environment: flat floor, spacious room, full-length mirror.
- Loose clothing and comfortable shoes. Nothing should hinder movement.
- Hip-hop rhythmic music. nine0015
A little ritual will help you tune yourself into the wave of hip-hop: stand with your legs apart, put your hands down and close your eyes. Listen carefully to the sound of the music and try to learn to hear the beat. Rock to the beat. And now you have already mastered the first movement. Congratulations! It's time to move on to more complex elements.
The basic movements of hip-hop are swing and step. You are already familiar with the first one. Now try to put your right foot to the side and stretch your right hand up. Bend your right leg, transferring your body weight to it, and lower your arm to shoulder level. Turn the body to the left, bend the left leg, and put the right leg on the toe. Now lower your right knee, arch your back and reach your hands to the floor. When you manage to complete this combination, consider yourself a good start in hip-hop. nine0003
Sign up for a trial lesson
Here are some more basic hip-hop moves for beginners:
- Starting position - standing, feet shoulder-width apart, and arms along the body. We squeeze the brushes into a fist and alternately bring forward one hand, then the other. Then we connect the legs bent at the knee: left hand - right leg, right leg - left hand.
- Starting position - standing. We jump in place and cross our legs, and bend our arms as if we were rowing.
- Starting position - standing, feet slightly wider than shoulders. We put the right leg a little back, bend the legs at the knees, which at the same time look straight. With the right hand we cover the face, with the left, folded into a fist, we put it in the region of the heart. Then at the same time we tilt our head to the right and unclench the left hand, and after that we turn the right knee and right hand to the right. nine0015
- Starting position - standing, feet firmly pressed to the floor, knees slightly bent. We put the spread fingers of the right hand on the chest, keep the elbow parallel to the floor. We bend in an arc, as if we received a blow right in the heart. Then we make two turns in different directions, straighten our back and return to the starting position. The hand at this time falls from the heart to the waist. At the end, we throw the pelvis forward again, round the back and tighten the buttocks.
You can achieve the first results quite quickly. But when you start to study closely how to dance hip hop, you will soon notice that there are no clear movements and rules in this direction. Having mastered a few basic elements, the dancers begin to improvise, create their own combinations and dance as creative fantasy suggests. nine0003
How to continue: choosing a style
If you have mastered the first movements of hip-hop from videos and photos on the Internet, it's time to choose the direction in which you will develop further. Hip-hop culture is a wide range of dance styles that differ from each other both in elements and in general mood. The main ones are:
- Breakdance is still popular basic style of hip-hop, on which the direction originated.
- Popping - rhythmic contraction of various muscle groups to the music so that it looks like jolts on the performer's body; nine0015
- Wave - smooth and plastic movements of the body, the most famous of which is the wave with hands;
- Afro-jazz - shaking mainly the lower and most prominent part of the body in women;
- Crump - energetic shaking of various limbs to the music so that it seems as if someone has moved into the dancer;
- New Style, also known as freestyle, is an improvisational dance that combines not only hip-hop movements, but also elements borrowed from more than a dozen other dance styles. nine0015
- La Style - Hip-hop, where the emphasis is on entertainment, so this style is used mainly in videos and when staging shows.
- Ragga jazz is a dance tuned to the music: the performer's legs work under the drums, and the hands become active during the recitative.
- Locking - an energetic dance with "locks" - freezing in different positions for a few seconds or periodically slowing down the movement.
- Power move is a spectacular style that includes complex acrobatic elements, handstands, various twists, and transitions. nine0015
- C-walk is a “language” dance with a criminal past that emphasizes intense and very dynamic footwork.
Women's and men's hip-hop
The next step in how to learn hip-hop without leaving home is to bring a little femininity or, conversely, brutality into your existing skills - depending on your gender accessories. The thing is that female and male hip-hop are somewhat different from each other, and, therefore, representatives of the beautiful and strong half are trained in this direction in different ways. nine0003
Hip-hop dancing for beginner girls is based on plasticity, flexibility and unobtrusive sexuality. Girls wear baggy sweatpants and hoodies on a par with men, perform sweeping movements, but their execution looks different: hips, legs and shoulders are more involved, the elements are a little smoother and sexier.
Male hip-hop, on the contrary, is more daring, energetic and sometimes even aggressive. The focus is on the work of the arms and body, acrobatic elements and movements that require strength and male endurance. nine0003
If you prefer to learn this difficult direction from videos, it is better to initially choose hip hop training, where the movements will be performed by a dancer of your gender. Together with the right technique, you will be able to capture the gender characteristics of the choreographic elements.
A few more secrets
Learning to dance hip-hop at home, without classes with a professional teacher, is not easy, but real. Especially if you add training with a few more components. Here, as in learning a foreign language, only complete immersion in the culture will help. So, here are some tips from “experienced” hiphopers who have mastered a lot not under the guidance of a qualified mentor, but at home by the mirror:
- Videos with basic exercises will help you master some of the moves, but for additional skills, it is better to turn to online courses. Hip-hop lessons for beginners are regularly held online, often live.
- Hiphop parties and hangouts will help you melt into this culture and make new acquaintances. Yes, of course, everyone will laugh at your first dances, but no one drags you to the center of the circle. While you're learning, watch the pros dance, adopt a style, and memorize some moves to practice at home. nine0015
- Clear training regimen. Only with regular practice can you achieve results. In addition, our body is set to a certain schedule, and if you exercise at a certain time, it will prepare for stress. As experienced dancers note, the optimal duration of even home workouts is two hours. This is enough for warming up, and for the lesson itself, and for stretching after.
- Additional physical activities. If you are in the mood not just for basic hip-hop movements, but for serious hip-hop elements with tricks, strengthening the muscles of the whole body is indispensable. You will need strong arms, strong core muscles, and no extra weight. This can be achieved by exercising in the gym or additional weight training at home. nine0015
- Compliance with safety regulations. Be sure to dance in comfortable non-slip shoes and loose clothing. Do not start training without a proper warm-up, and when practicing acrobatic elements, lay something soft on the floor.
Video tutorials will be enough to learn how to dance hip-hop. But to become a real dancer, you need to study the subculture from the inside. It is believed that a hiphoper has achieved true mastery when he is in perfect control of his body, does not “slow down” on the dance floor, knows how to improvise and select universal movements for any music. Hip-hop dance lends itself only to the very persistent and disciplined, those who are able to understand and accept its "philosophy of freedom". nine0003
Do not forget that there are many professionals around who are ready to help you take your first steps in hip-hop or improve the skills you learned at home. Qualified teachers of the La Boca dance club will find an individual approach to you, work out with you the technique of performing movements and even acrobatic elements. You don't have to go far: "La Boca" is located in the very center of St. Petersburg - on "Petrogradka"
Video: basic hip-hop movements
How to learn to dance from scratch
Dancing is not boring fitness for everyone! Moving to the music, you get a cardio load, training of all muscle groups and a great mood. How to learn to dance for a beginner, we tell in this material.
Ariana Grande nine0003
Types of dances
How to learn to dance at home
You don't have to wait for inspiration, because you can create it yourself. Dance videos and music videos will help with motivation. Then you don’t need to force yourself - your legs will dance on their own. After watching videos with professional dancers, it is very difficult to sit still and you want to learn the same way sooner. nine0003
Listen to music
Any experienced dancer will tell you that technique is important, but even more important is musicality. To develop an ear for music and a sense of rhythm, you need to become a real music lover. Listen to different genres and different artists - this will give you the opportunity to expand your musical horizons and more accurately determine which direction in dance is closer to you. Fortunately, you can listen to music everywhere: on headphones while walking, at home while cleaning, or in car speakers. Note interesting melodic tricks to yourself, beat beats, dance whenever possible. nine0003
Do physical training
Learning to dance well is impossible without a trained body. You must have a certain level of endurance, muscle strength and flexibility in order to successfully master the choreographic elements and not be exhausted in the middle of a workout.
Where can I learn to dance?
The easiest and most effective way is to enroll in a dance studio. Many dance schools organize free open lessons where you can take a closer look at a particular style of dance and see if that teacher's teaching style suits you. nine0003
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Of course, you can learn to dance at home from the video, but still, under the guidance of a professional teacher, you will progress much faster. In addition, in the studio you are completely immersed in the atmosphere, nothing distracts you, and the coach will always explain the correct and safe movement technique.
How to learn to dance modern dances for women?
First you need to decide on the style of dance you want to do. Among modern trends with an emphatically feminine presentation, strip plastic, high heels, jazz-funk, vogue, twerk, dancehall can be distinguished. nine0003
Where can a woman learn how to dance modern dance?
The best way to start dancing for a beginner is, of course, a specialized studio. When choosing it, rely on the recommendations of friends. See the website and social media pages of the dance school. In the same "Instagram (The social network is recognized as extremist and banned on the territory of the Russian Federation)", for example, studios publish videos with their teachers, and you can choose who you would like to study with. nine0003
If you decide to practice at home, make sure you have at least 2 square meters of free space. You will also need a large full-length mirror so that you can check the correctness of the movements.
How can a girl learn to dance from scratch?
First of all, when starting to dance, do not demand the impossible from yourself. Everyone has their own capabilities and their own pace of development. Be ambitious, but not self-critical! Cheer yourself up and don't let yourself get frustrated if things don't work out right away. nine0003
The main thing in training is regularity. Think over your schedule and allocate 2-3 days on which you are definitely going to attend classes and will not miss.
Practice at home what you learned in training. This way you will develop much faster and soon turn into a quite confident dancer. At the same time, stretching is useful, especially after a workout, when the muscles are warmed up and supple.
Contemporary dance styles
Everyone who gets acquainted with modern choreography first learns about the contemporary style. This name is translated as “modern”. The direction combines elements of different styles, but takes its origin from modern style. For contemporary, you need flexibility and good stretch.
The progenitor of almost all modern trends. Although hip hop appeared almost half a century ago, it still remains one of the most popular dance styles. Today, hip-hop is danced by both men and women. In recent years, the direction has been enriched with elements from other styles, and movements from hip-hop, in turn, have replenished the arsenal of younger dance styles. To learn how to dance hip-hop from scratch, you need to work out the basic movements - you can do this with video lessons. nine0003
Click and watch
It is better to study such a spectacular and impressive style as breakdance in a dance school under the supervision of a teacher, since break movements are quite traumatic, especially for beginners. Break dancers have in their arsenal a lot of power elements and dizzying tricks that are breathtaking.
Street style based on sharp muscle contractions that alternate with waves, slips, fixed poses. All this is combined into a whimsical performance with bright accents. Traditionally performed to funk or hip-hop music. nine0003
It is also sometimes called commercial choreography. This style is danced to the most popular hits, and it includes campy and plastic movements with the most expressive delivery. If you're into clips of pop stars like J. Lo, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, this style is for you!
Click and watch
This provocative style has both many fans and many haters. Someone finds twerk-style choreography juicy and bold, someone considers dance vulgarity. One thing we know for sure: twerk classes help to perfectly pump the buttocks, and also train the hips, abs and lower back. nine0003
The most feminine and plastic style of dance performed with very high heels. Includes sexual fluid movements, mostly on the floor. Modern strip plastic has absorbed elements of other styles, so you definitely won’t get bored of monotony.
This style consists of acrobatic elements on a pole performed to music. Hence its name: pole dance means "pole dance". There is also a direction of exotic pole dance, in which classical pole dance is combined with strip plastic on the floor. nine0003
A dance from Jamaica based on the basic steps - steps. There are female and male and a variety of dancehall. The female version has a lot of sexy butt and pelvic movements, twerk shaking and harsh accents. The dance is performed to music in the same style.
Feminine choreography on heels with smooth and sharp movements.